The World of Silence

The Hope

   The houses of the great city are like pillboxes
against the silence. It is as though shots were being
fired from their windows against the silence.
   At night the houses and squares seem to be raised aloft
by the lights, no longer firmly on the ground, but hovering
in the air. It is as though the lights were lifting up the 
city; like an enormous balloon it seems to hover over
itself. More and more lights blaze up, green and blue,
and the city seems to hover. But the sky over the city
with the stars trembles and flees.
   Then all at once the lights go out. A moment of silence
arises, and then it is as though the city were considering
whether to hurl itself down and destroy itself.
   But suddenly from the top floor of a house through a
chink come the rays of a friendly light. And then it is as
if the rays were being sent out like the dove from Noah's
ark to see whether it is not time for the city to land on the
mount of silence. But the rays of light return to the top
floor of the house. Their mission was in vain—until the
moon comes and before it disappears toward morning,
takes them into its own rays.
   Perhaps silence has not yet been completely destroyed.
Perhaps it is still to be found in man, but sleeping. For
sometimes it happens that a quality of an individual or a
nation is as dead for a long time, covered over by another
quality. For example, the poetic creativity of a nation
can seem to have died out, overgrown by scientific or
political talents. But one day it appears again and so
powerfully that it seems to overflow with its fullness back
into the space of the empty years. Or perhaps an age is
rationalistic, so much so it seems there will never be
anything but rationalism in the future. But suddenly the
rationalism disappears and an anti-rationalist age appears.
The metaphysical power in man had not been destroyed;
it was not dead but only asleep. It seems that from time
to time one direction of the spirit has to show itself more
clearly and more forcefully than it really wants to, so that
the other can be hidden and recuperate in peace.
   Perhaps it is thus with silence, too. Perhaps it is not
dead but merely sleeping, resting. Then noise would be
only the wall behind which silence is sleeping, and noise
would then be not the victor over silence, not its master,
but its servant watching whilst its master, silence sleeps.

          Ah, said Selina, is it not a comforting thought, this
          hidden wealth in our souls; can we not hope that uncon-
          sciously we love God more inwardly than we know, and
          that a quiet instinct for the second world is working inside
          us, all the time we give ourselves up so much to the
          external world. (Jean Paul)

   It seems sometimes as though it might come to a fight
between silence and noise; as if silence were secretly
preparing for an invasion.
   Noise is powerful, but sometimes silence seems even
more powerful—so powerful that it does not seem to
notice whether noise is there or not.
   It is true that the noise is always increasing, always
gathering more and more things into itself. But perhaps
everything is being concentrated in the noise so that it can
all be destroyed more easily when silence launches a
surprise attack.
   Perhaps this enormous mechanism of noise will explode
by its own violence, and the report will be a call to the
silence telling it that its time has come.

          Watchman, what of the night?
          Watchman, what of the night?
          The watchman said: The morning cometh, also the night.
          If you seek, seek: return, come. 
                                                                      (Isaiah 21:11)